EU Youth Conference 2020 starts
Foto: Michael Scholl / DBJR (CC0)
Dear youth representatives.
Dear Federal Minister.
Dear representatives of the ministries of the European states.
In the coming days young people from all over Europe will come together and discuss, but not only that: they will formulate what a sustainable, solidary and democratic Europe means to them.
"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming." With this sentence, the writer Pablo Neruda has made it clear that, in the end, democracy cannot be stopped.
Thirty years ago, when walls and fences fell in Europe, democracy was given its chance throughout Europe. It is THE form of government in all European countries. But everywhere it is coming under pressure from the rise of nationalists and anti-democrats. Outside the European Union, as in Belarus, many people - including an incredible number of young people - stand up for this democracy day after day, defying state power.
Within the EU, the balance between the legislative, judicial and executive branches is destabilised in some places. But this balance is important for a democratic state, as is a free press and, above all, a democratic civil society! If this balance is no longer right, it will have consequences throughout Europe, for our coexistence, for the European Community.
We do not want democracy to be allowed to falter.
This EU Youth Conference is an opportunity to claim spaces for participation so that strong democracy is possible throughout Europe. It is an opportunity to formulate the needs and demands of the young Europe.
Our youth organisations and regional youth councils in the German Federal Youth Council consider ourselves Spaces of practiced democracy. This conference is also a Space of practiced democracy. We are building something together, we are fine-tuning demands, we are building positions, we are drilling in dialogue with politicians and hopefully in the end we will have created a work piece that politicians in Europe cannot ignore.
And in the course of the trio presidency with Portugal and Slovenia we will have created a joint European masterpiece.
"Europe for Youth, Youth for Europe" is the title of this EU Youth Conference. We will not be able to address all the pressing issues of the current time over the next four days. That is why, in the interest of young people in Europe, we want to take the opportunity to give something back to our German Presidency at its halfway point:
Do not forget young people in the measures against the pandemic. We need exchanges and physical encounters with one another, we need freedom of movement, because young people are more than schoolchildren, more than apprentices or students.
Support youth and ensure a social Europe with a high-quality youth guarantee that protects young people from youth unemployment, existential hardship and precarious life situations.
Take care of those people who seek protection and refuge at the edges of Europe from wars and crises, from need and desperation. Isolation and repression must not be the guiding principle of European asylum and migration policy. The situation of refugees at Europe's external borders has been exacerbated by the effects of the Corona crisis and urgently needs to be improved.
Take decisive action against the climate crisis. The one-sided focus on strong economic growth is not the strategy that will lead to a sustainable and just society. We want to live in a Europe that takes the climate neutral continent seriously; that creates the socio-ecological transformation!
Strengthens democracy and ensures the principle of the rule of law in Europe. And follows the current best practice example of Belgium and lowers the voting age in the whole of Europe to 16 years!
We are ready to assume our responsibility for a democratic, peaceful and solidary Europe. We will therefore fill the cube and we are counting on our results to have an impact. And now let's go!